Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nilson and the Three LIttle Pigs

My son Nilson is five years old. Every night before he sleeps, I either tell him a story or read one with him. Sometimes it’s a Bible story (though lately he has not liked those before sleeping because of all the violence), sometimes it’s a traditional bedtime story, and sometimes its just a story I make up on the spot. Sometimes, he likes to tell me a story.


Nilson had been thinking about some Bible stories a few nights ago when I was telling the three little pigs again (at  his request.) He asked me to change it. I told a funny version, then he told one. Below are close approximations of the stories we told. The first one is mine the second one is Nilson’s.


The Four Little Pigs


Once upon a time there were four little pigs. One build a house of bricks. One built a house of sticks, one built a house of straw, and one build no house at all. He he preferred to live off the land and sleep in the field.

Once upon a time there were three little pigs.


The Three Pigs


Once upon a time there were three little pigs. The youngest pig was a foolish pig. He build his house of straw on the sand. His brother was foolish too. He build his house of sticks on the sand as well. They had a wise brother. He build his brick house on the rock.


One day a big bad wolf said to the youngest pig. “Open the door and let me in. I’m hungry.”


“Nope.” said the little pig.


“Ok, I will blow your house down and then eat you.” said the wolf. So he huffed and puffed and blew against the house of the foolish pig and it fell with a great crash. The little pig ran away to his wise brother’s house.


The wolf, saw the stick house nearby and said the same thing to the next pig.


One day a big bad wolf said to the pig. “Open the door and let me in. I’m hungry.”


“Sorry.” said the pig.


“Ok, I will blow your house down and then eat you.” said the wolf. So he huffed and puffed and blew against the house of the foolish pig and it fell with a great crash. This pig ran away to his wise brother’s house, too.


The wolf went to the wise pig’s house. “Open the door and let me in. I’m hungry.”


“Okay” said the wise pig. He opened the door, put a rock in his sling, spun it round and round and slung the rock as hard as he could at the wolf. It hit him right between the eyes.


The big bad wolf never bothered the pigs again.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Shanghaied and Marooned

Sometimes, out of the blue, you find yourself in a moment and a place where there is no other way to describe what you’re feeling than the word “Alone.”


This happened to me a dozen years ago, in Shanghai, China. My friends and I had crossed the city to attend a legal expatriate evangelical church service. This was a long trip that involved a 40 minute bus ride, a 20 minute walk and a 20 minute subway ride.

Returning after the service, we had ridden the subway, and were walking the long walk to the bus stop. My stomach was hurting. Several times, I had to ask my group to stop and wait for me to rest. We made it to the bus stop and got our bus.

Busses are always overcrowded in Shanghai, even the two story ones like the one we were on. Sometimes there is so little space, that you have to stand there with one foot on top of your other one. Ten minutes into the bus ride, I knew I was going to throw up. I just prayed for the bus to stop so I could get off. I fought to get to a door.

The bus stopped. I got off. None of my friends knew. I made it to a tree and threw up into the gutter for several minutes. I then sat down and recovered my strength. After a few minutes, it dawned on me. I was somewhere in the middle of Shanghai, China. It was late at night, and no one even knew I was gone.


A couple of days ago, we came back very late from a Bible study in another neighborhood. my son had fallen asleep in the car, so we put him in bed. He and my wife take a certain medication that is on a strict 12 hour schedule. When we got home, we realized that there was none left. The only option was for me to go downtown to the 24 hour pharmacy and purchase some more.

This worried my wife. For one, it was late and downtown isn’t safe at night. Two, I am presently deaf and that makes it even less safe for me to go alone. Three, we had no cash and just barely enough in the bank to cover the cost of the generic version of medicine, unless they charged extra at night. Four, they were already 2 hours late taking the medicine and she was a pile of nerves.

I took the car downtown and parked a few blocks away from the pharmacy. I walked up to the window and in just a few minutes time, had the medicine in hand. I jogged back to the car, and seeing several men sitting on the sidewalk, nearby, decided to get in and drive away quickly. As I got in the car, I saw one of the men getting up. I closed the door and started the car.

When I pulled away, I got about 50 yards, and felt a pop. The car stopped. I coasted to a stop on the side of the road. Oops. I opened the hood. I checked the spark plugs. the distributor cap, the carburetor, the fuel filter and pump. Nothing.

It was 1:00 AM. I couldn’t get the car to start. I had no money for a bus ticket, not that there was one going to my neighborhood anyway. I had no money for a taxi. I had no way to tell my wife that the car had broken down, or that I would be very late.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Morning Prayer

Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. --Matthew 16:24-27

Lord Jesus, I have a problem, and I need your help. You said whoever is unwilling to give up all that he has can not be your disciple. You told your disciples to first count the cost. You turned away men who said they would follow, but kept obligations in their hearts. I need your help.

I have trouble denying myself.

When I am ignored, neglected, set aside, devalued, overlooked, or forgotten, it hurts. I want to become bitter. I want to ignore the needs of others. I want to isolate myself, and just do things for me.

Remind me, Lord, to be grateful. For I have also been noticed and valued. I have also been remembered and appreciated. I have been given special attention and compliment. Above all, you remembered my name and wrote it in your book. How blessed I am.

Help me, Lord, not to neglect others when I feel down. Help me to show my wife and son how much I value them. Open my eyes to ways to remember them and give them my time and my attention. Help me love them with my actions.

Show me, Lord Jesus, how you suffered these things and how you overcame.  Let these events reveal themselves to you as I study your gospels. Open my eyes to your example. Help me to meditate on what your word says.

Teach me your truth, Father.  I will trust it and declare it. Help me to share with my wife and son, my family and friends, my colleagues and strangers, and my enemies.  Each one has a special value, whether or not we feel valued.

For we were created with the imprint of your image. You love us, and this is they way you showed it. You gave your son, so that whoever believes in him would not perish and suffer eternal isolation, but have everlasting life with you and all who have believed, where there will be perfect communion and perfect love.

Empower me to share that kind of perfect love with others today. When I am slighted, I will refuse to let anger arise in my heart. I will be patient and show love. I will deny myself and follow the way of Christ. When I am ridiculed, I will make my heart content to be counted worthy of suffering. Yes, I will take up my cross and follow the way of Christ.


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